Manage Emotions to Reduce Aggression: A Pilot Study of a Brief Treatment to Help Veterans Reduce Impulsive Aggression

Shannon R. Miles, Thomas A. Kent, Melinda Stanley, Karin E. Thompson, Carla Sharp, Barbara L. Niles, Stacey Young-Mccaughan, Jim Mintz, John D. Roache, Brett T. Litz, Willie J. Hale, Matthew S. Stanford, Terence M. Keane, Alan L. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) report more aggression than civilians with PTSD. Because emotion regulation difficulties mediated the relationship between PTSD symptoms and impulsive aggression in veterans, we developed an intervention to increase emotion regulation skills. This pilot study tested the feasibility and acceptability of a three-session treatment, Manage Emotions to Reduce Aggression (MERA), and examined its effectiveness at reducing aggression and emotion dysregulation. Male combat veterans with PTSD and impulsive aggression completed assessments before and 4 weeks after MERA. Overt Aggression Scale measured frequency of aggression; Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale assessed emotion dysregulation. Most veterans (95%) who completed MERA and the posttreatment assessment (n = 20) reported MERA was helpful. Veterans in the intent-to-treat sample demonstrated a significant decrease in their frequency of aggression (Cohen's d =-0.55) and emotion dysregulation (Cohen's d =-0.55). MERA may be an innovative treatment that helps veterans reduce aggression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-903
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Impulsive aggression
  • emotion regulation
  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • treatment
  • veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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